WASHINGTON — Since the election, President-elect Donald Trump has lavished attention on one family, besides his own, meeting with all three Emanuel brothers: first Ari, then Rahm, and on Wednesday, with eldest brother Zeke.
This leaves the strong impression that Trump, if not exactly courting the famous and accomplished brothers, is going out of his way to seek input from the Chicago-born Democrats.
There’s Ari, the powerful Hollywood superagent; Rahm, the Chicago mayor who worked for two presidents; and Zeke, a doctor who was a key Obamacare architect.
Why is Trump huddling with the brothers Emanuel? We know he wants to surround himself with uber successful people, whether from business, government, the military, or in the case of Zeke, academia.
And we also know that Trump is fixated on family. His own key advisers are his adult children and son-in-law.
Each brash Emanuel brother, Ari, from Los Angeles, Rahm in Chicago, and Zeke, a Philadelphia resident, is a standout.
• Trump asked Zeke for a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan to discuss health care. After a stint in the White House as an Obamacare policy adviser, Zeke is the chair of the Medical Ethics and Health Policy department at the University of Pennsylvania.
A central Trump campaign pledge is to repeal and replace the Obamacare health insurance program.
Asked why Trump wants to meet with Zeke, a spokesman, Sean Spicer, said in a briefing call with reporters, “I think the president-elect has been very clear that Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced. He is looking at all ideas. I think even folks like Dr. Emanuel has talked about ways in which to improve upon it.”
“I think it continues to show the open mind at which [Trump] approaches all of these problems,” Spicer said.
Zeke declined to comment on the meeting. Asked why he accepted, Zeke told me, “My parents always told me, public service is important, working for your country is important. . . . I was called and asked, and I showed up.”
While it may seem that a meeting with Zeke is after-the-fact, last month Zeke told NPR he’ll work with anyone who has as a goal universal coverage, which so far is lacking in any GOP plan. Maybe he can influence Trump.
• Ari, the youngest brother, dubbed the “King of Hollywood” by Trump, is the Emanuel who likely knows Trump the best. The two dealmakers huddled on Nov. 20 at the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey.
Ari is the co-CEO of the WME-IMG agency, and he represented Trump when he was starring on “The Apprentice.”
• Trump and Rahm are not strangers. Trump donated $50,000 to Rahm’s mayoral campaign fund in 2010. Rahm sits on a unique perch: He was President Barack Obama’s first chief of staff and a senior adviser in Bill Clinton’s White House.
After the election, Trump phoned Rahm to talk about the transition, and last Thursday they met at Trump Tower along with incoming senior adviser Stephen Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus.
Rahm used the occasion to press the case for Trump not to deport Dreamers, immigrants brought here illegally as children.
Rahm and Priebus will meet again on Friday at the White House.
That’s when Obama’s White House chief of staff Denis McDonough hosts the traditional lunch for the incoming chief of staff, with previous chiefs invited.
Emanuel needs federal help for the city, so it is in his self-interest to make a Trump relationship work. As for Trump’s fascination with the brothers Emanuel?
Would be something if the canny brothers get a toehold in Trumpland.Tweets by @lynnsweet